Eastern Promises

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Product Overview

A russian teenager living in london who dies during childbirth leaves clues to a midwife in her journal that could tie her child to a rape involving a violent russian mob family.


Studio Universal
SKU 206232384
UPC 025193330024
UPC 14 00025193330024
Format DVD
Release Date 1/6/2009
Rating Rating
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen follow up 2005's A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE with another joint effort in EASTERN PROMISES. The film takes place in rainswept London, with Mortensen effortlessly inhabiting the role of a chauffeur (named Nikolai) for the Russian Mafia. The stoic Nikolai works for restaurant owner and powerful Mafia kingpin Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his out-of-control son Kirill (Vincent Cassel). Cronenberg adds a few generous splashes of blood-red to his otherwise deeply grey cinematic palette as the movie begins, then allows his central storyline to unfold. Midwife Anna (Naomi Watts) comes crashing into Nikolai's life after discovering the diary of a young Russian woman who dies while giving birth, and her dealings with Semyon, and a subsequent translation of the diary, provide some horrific discoveries. Anna soon finds herself floundering in an alien world full of brutal and bloody violence, and it's not long before her own life hangs perilously in the balance. ^Fans of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE will find much to enjoy here, as will longstanding Cronenberg fans who have stuck with the director since his early low-budget horror days. Plenty of themes, ideas, and obsessions that have run right through the director's body of work are present, and he appears to have found a very effective muse in Mortensen. The chief talking points of the film will almost certainly revolve around Mortensen's extended nude sequence and the graphic killings and fight sequences, but EASTERN PROMISES is a weighty piece of work that will undoubtedly attract fans of intelligent, well-crafted thrillers.
Rolling Stone 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Brilliant film. Brilliant director....Cronenberg brings us face to face with the horror of self." 09/20/2007 p.100,Ranked #4 in Rolling Stone's "10 Best Movies Of 2007" -- "[A] brutally mesmeric tale of the Russian mob in London." 12/27/2007 p.120
USA Today 3 stars out of 4 -- "EASTERN PROMISES has a compelling story and strong performances....Provocative and engrossing, with an intriguing twist near the conclusion." 09/14/2007 p.5E
New York Times "Mr. Cronenberg insists on getting under your skin. The result is a movie whose images and implications are likely to stay in your head for a long time." 09/14/2007 p.E8
Entertainment Weekly "[I]ntriguing....EASTERN PROMISES unpeels like an onion of corruption, with double crosses and deceptions, and ordinary do-gooders in way over their heads. Cronenberg's craftsmanship is seductive." -- Grade: B 10/01/2007 p.60
Uncut 4 stars out of 5 -- "[H]ynotic and queasy, it delivers the director's trademark traumas in abundance." 11/01/2007 p.147,4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] distinctive new spin on the London crime yarn: a bleak, unsettling thriller that's nightmare made flesh." 11/01/2007 p.46
Empire 3 stars out of 5 -- "[Cronenberg] revels in the detail, fascinated by conflicted nostalgia for the old country and the tattoos that ensure a Russian gangster's past is permanently etched into his body..." 11/01/2007 p.61
Sight and Sound "The continuity between EASTERN PROMISES and Cronenberg's early works is maintained through two themes: violence and the body. The violence in EASTERN PROMISES is at times breathtakingly brutal..." 11/01/2007 57
Ultimate DVD 4 stars out of 5 -- "The excellent Mortensen is utterly mesmeric....A darkly unforgettable crime thriller..." 12/01/2007 p.82
Los Angeles Times "Expertly realized and gummetal slick, EASTERN PROMISES whirs along with perfect efficiency..." 09/14/2007
Wall Street Journal "David Cronenberg's harsh but powerful film conjures up a violent world of bottomless evil, yet holds out, through Anna and Ms. Watts's lovely performance, the possibility of doing good." 05/07/2010
David Cronenberg
Naomi Watts
Viggo Mortensen
Cast & Crew
Armin Mueller-Stahl - Actor
Carol Spier - Production Designer
David Cronenberg - Director
Howard Shore - Original Music By
Naomi Watts - Actor
Paul Webster - Producer
Peter Suschitzky - Cinematographer
Rebecca Holmes - Art Director
Ronald Sanders - Editor
Stephen Garrett - Executive Producer
Steven Knight - Writer
Viggo Mortensen - Actor
Vincent Cassel - Actor
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2007
Catalog ID 62033300
UPC 00025193330024
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 101 minutes
Color Color
Original Language English
Available Subtitles English, French, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks English, French Dubbed
Aspect Ratio
Anamorphic Widescreen  1.85:1
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review Eastern Promises is the latest effort from acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg, whose recent work has elevated his status from that of a cult figure to someone in the mainstrem. Although the director has re-teamed with his The History of Violence star, Viggo Mortensen, the results aren't as satisfactory. Eastern Promises is a jumbled string of mob-related cliches that mesh into something that's derivative and at times uninteresting...Cronenberg delivers twice when it comes to gore and violence. The movie opens with one of these trademark scenes as a man's throat is slit while he's in a barber's chair. (Encouragement to tip well.) Later, there's a no holds-barred two-on-one between Nikolai and a couple of thugs. What makes this interesting is that Viggo Mortensen is naked for the entire battle. This is one of those rare movies when there's plenty of male nudity as Mortensen literally lets it all hang out. (Hetero men will be glad to know that there are a few bare breasts here and there, although none belongs to Naomi Watts.)...Perhaps the director set the bar so high with The History of Violence (a flawed but at times brilliant motion picture) that there was no way he could equal it with Eastern Promises, but for him to fall so far short is nothing less than criminal.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 6
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review "Eastern Promises" is no ordinary crime thriller, just as Cronenberg is no ordinary director. Beginning with low-rent horror films in the 1970s, because he could get them financed, Cronenberg has moved film by film into the top rank of directors, and here he wisely reunites with Mortensen, star of their "A History of Violence" (2005). No, Mortensen is not Russian, but don't even think about the problem of an accent; he digs so deeply into the role you may not recognize him at first...The script is by Steven Knight, author of the powerful "Dirty Pretty Things" (2002), about a black market in body parts. Set in London, it had scarcely a native-born Londoner in it. He's fascinated by the worlds within the London world. Here, too. His lines of morality are more murkily drawn here, as allegiances and loyalties shift, and old emotions turn out to be forgotten but not dead...The actors and the characters merge and form a reality above and apart from the story, and the result is a film that takes us beyond crime and London and the Russian mafia and into the mystifying realms of human nature.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 10
DVD, Widescreen, English, Spanish, French, Dolby, Dolby Digital (5.1)
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD
A.O. Scott, The New York Times ...a movie whose images and implications are likely to stay in your head for a long time.
Glenn Kenny, Premiere One of Cronenberg's subtlest, most insinuating pictures, and one of the highlights of the year so far.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone A mesmerizing power-punch of a thriller!
Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian Cronenberg has, as Guillermo del Toro did in "Pan's Labyrinth," crafted both a drama and a fairy tale...
Todd McCarthy, Variety A superbly wrought yarn...[that] instantly takes its place among David Cronenberg's very best films.

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